Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

 |   |  1 min read

Olson and Louris: My Gospel Song for You
Mark Olson and Gary Louris: Ready for the Flood (Hacktone/Elite)

Given that albums aren't recorded in the order we hear them it's surprising how many peter out after the halfway mark: I guess that's what you call "playing your aces first".

This album by alt.country/Americana luminaries Olson and Louris who last played together in the Jayhawks over a decade ago does the opposite however: after the halfway mark (in truth well before it), the songs seem to get stronger. Perhaps that's also due to the casual familiarity of these voices growing on you?

Recorded by the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson who keeps things acoustic, simple and pleasingly spare, these lyrically interesting songs work sometimes spare folk-rock changes or seem to have sprung from pre-Eagles California as much as somewhere Southern and rural. Certainly the spirit of James Taylor and even Nick Drake is here walking alongside that of Gram Parsons and Levon Helm. There's Anglo-folk alongside the songsmith smarts of a Paul Simon

Gentle finger-picking underpins soft songs such as Saturday Morning on Sunday Street where the close harmonies glisten, in other places the tempo is kicked up in a low pop-rock Creedence-cum-John Fogerty manner (Chamberlain, SD with Robinson on harmonica) and the voices have a more abrasive and sand-paper quality.

There is the obligatory death ballad here (Bloody Hands) but mostly this is a melancholy and thoughtful album that impresses on a first hearing for its low-key nature -- and grows in stature as it goes. Both over time and in the running order. 

PS. Last year Louris released the very fine Vagabonds album, also recorded by Robinson. Just released is the Acoustic Vagabonds EP, six Vagabonds tracks done acoustically. Nice.

Share It

Your Comments

d geary - Mar 30, 2009

sweet - a Grant Lee Buffalo HONEY DON'T THINK vibe. whatever happened to him?

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Various Artists: Heartland (Sony)

Various Artists: Heartland (Sony)

From time to time I am approached to write liner notes for albums, and I only ever accept those which I think are interesting -- like the collections of New Zealand psychedelic music under the... > Read more

Mel Parsons: Over My Shoulder (Cape Road)

Mel Parsons: Over My Shoulder (Cape Road)

Many local singer-songwriters have found their voice in what we know as alt.country, but Parsons (originally from the West Coast) goes one step closer to more traditional country music and an... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST AUTHOR DAVID VEART argues toys are us

GUEST AUTHOR DAVID VEART argues toys are us

Although many of our toys were produced in factories, others came from the backyard shed and the kitchen table: trolleys, tin canoes, dolls' houses, dolls' clothes, soft toys, made by cash- or... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: Continental Drift (1989)

The Rolling Stones: Continental Drift (1989)

For reasons which were never clear or explained, in 1989 the Rolling Stones included this interesting piece of rock exotica on their Steel Wheels album, which was otherwise business as usual in the... > Read more